This month we will delve into some of our reptile species as May is one month which is key for our snakes. Both the adder and grass snake usually undertake mating during April / May.
Adder males pick up pheromones in the air from females to locate them. Where multiple males encounter each other they can become engaged in the ‘Dance of the Adders’ – a wrestling match between individuals to force the loser out of a range. This doesn’t involve biting and should settle matters without violence. Larger males are known to fight more often. In courtship, males flick their tongues over a females back and sides before following her movements. Females may mate with several males over the course of a season and clutches of young can be from multiple fathers – even from previous seasons on occasion (Stille et al. 1986).
Grass snakes mate soon after emerging from the winter. Mating balls can form where anywhere up to eight males and one or two females can be entangled for up to two hours. The largest females are often sought after and the largest males have more success in these wrestling encounters.
Froglife’s new app – the Wildlife Pond Visualiser – is a great way to benefit species that use ponds such as grass snakes. See here for more – https://bit.ly/2VfkuHU